With nips of winter arriving in the next day or two, I’m not ready to go into hiding just yet.
I’ve been working on that pile of logs that has been sitting on the edge of the woods for the past year.
Now those logs are split firewood, in piles on my lawn, stacked by the front door or taking residence stacked in the basement.
The kitchen stove is getting into gear. On Wednesday, I fried sliced potatoes while spattering liquid butter and olive oil onto the stove, creating a thin blue fog downstairs. It was plenty warm enough to open the doors to clear the air.
The dreary, wet weather last week required a fire in the stove to cheer things up, even though it wasn’t anything but cool outside.
Maggie baked a pumpkin and made applesauce on the fire in anticipation of Canadian Thanksgiving. In this continent of plenty, it makes sense to have a Thanksgiving feast at least three or four times during the year.
The wood splitter, converted from an old International Scout, has been moving around the yard as each pile of wood crowds the area.
The Scout hardly looks like it could do anything. I have two tongue depressors in the voltage regulator, so it won’t drain the battery I’ve borrowed from a tractor. Its paint job of house paint looks 30 years old, because it is. Its rusting side has obscene graffiti on it that was painted over, but is still readable.
It makes a lot of noise and occasionally belches steam. It has no brakes.
The clutch is “a bit touchy.” Sometimes I have to hand file small pieces of steel to make shaft keys for it when one fails. And, none of its four tires is the same size.
But the old girl sure can split wood, as the small congregation of Hadleyites who use it can attest.
Sometimes I use it to split shingles, or to make two-foot boards.
I plan to keep splitting until the snow starts to pile up around my knees.
Then, I’ll make the short trek through the front door and try to stay behind it (apart from chores) until sugar season, unless I get hoodwinked into drilling holes in the ice of Lake George.
I’ll live off pickles, jarred applesauce, frozen pumpkin and vegetables, some potatoes and chicken eggs — unless Maggie goes shopping or tells me to get out of the house and go shopping.
I’ll answer questions from underneath a blanket, and encourage the dogs to go out and bring in firewood stick by stick.
Why not? They like the stove as much as I do.
Well, that’s my plan, anyway. It never works out that way. Somehow I always find myself trudging around in the snowy woods partaking in some hare-brained adventure or another.
Still, I can dream of hiding under the stove all winter along with those dogs.
Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley with his family, even in the winter. You can leave him a message at email@example.com.